Sunday, February 28, 2010

Long Night!!!!

It's going to be a long night tonight. It is the end of the Lunar celebration for Chinese New Year and the fireworks started at sundown and will continue all night long until the sun rises. These aren't just your little firecrackers you buy for the 4th of July they are the big sky filling booming loud fireworks. They are literally being lit off right behind our house. With the tall buildings around the noise echos off them and it makes it double, triple loud. We all ran up to our roof earlier tonight to see them but now it's 11:00 at night and I'm ready to sleep but can't. Combine that with all the people partying and music playing down in Sea World Plaza, the car alarms going off because of the fireworks and it is going to be a really long night.

The Chinese legend is that the fireworks scare the monsters away. Legend is that a monster used to come down every year during the New Year to a village at night and would kill people. They created fireworks to scare the monster away and light them off all night long during this time. I would think that it would be creating monsters because of all the people not getting any sleep. I'll need to make sure to bring ear plugs back with us next year.

I used to love watching fireworks but not all night long right over our house.

Our beautiful daughter!!!!

Rachel has a friend who is really good at taking pictures and photoshopping them. They had a lot of fun with this pictures one day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

On the Way Back to Ho Chi Min

This is a memorial commemorating the day the Vietnamese kicked out the French. There was a castle at the top of this hill but nearly all of it was destroyed except for one tower. Behind the memorial you can see some of the gun turrets the French used to keep the Vietnamese out.
This is the remaining tower from the French castle.
Inside the Temple (next to the French Castle) was the Shiva Linga, which is a hindu symbol. This has been here for over 900 years.
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We're RICH!!!

Yea, that's right...we're rich; filthy rich, in fact. I went to the ATM and withdrew a million and gave it to my wife to go shopping. I told her to go buy something nice (as long as it doesn't exceed $62, because that's what 1,000,000 dong is worth, $62).
We left our hotel to go to Ho Chi Min City and stopped at this temple that was built in the 11th century. When the French occupied this territory they also built a small castle near here. When the Vietnamese kicked out the French they destroyed most of the castle except for one tower.
Here is our whole gang next to the temple...the Galicias, Rundells, Reddens and Lewis.
Here is just our gang.
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Our Last Day at Mui Ne Beach, Vietnam

We rented this jet ski for $45 for 45 minutes. It was a blast because it was really choppy and the waves were huge. I thought I was going to dump it the first time I took it out, but I made it out not problem.

We buried Vika's legs and made her into a mermaid.
This was our last night on the beach. The kite boarding was incredible. There were hundreds of people kite boarding and I think the lessons are shorter then they would be in the US. We saw a Russian guy do it in 2 days, but it seemed dangerous because the wind was very strong.
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Our Day at the Dunes

Rachel is doing a perfect dive roll from the top of the white dunes.
Here are Jonny and Vika sliding down the dunes on a plastic sled.
This is cobra and scorpion wine....yea, cobra and scorpion. Look closely, there is a cobra in the bottle with the tail of a scorpion in it's mouth and this is wine. It costs about $5, so I bought a couple of bottles to bring back for disections in my science class. This is cheaper then getting stuff sent over from the US.
This is a true working mom. She is rocking this baby in the hammock while she is the person on the other side of this window cooking us our lunch. She's cooking our lunch with one hand and her other hand is on the hammock rocking it.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our Day at the Dunes

We went to a local touring agency and booked a guided jeep trip to the red and white sand dunes for $144 for 20 people for 4 hours. They picked us up at the hotel at 8 am and went to a local fishing village.

As usual, Vika was popular with the locals. Still haven't figure out what they think is so funny about a blond baby, but Vika gets a lot of attention, so she likes it. They thought it was hilarious that her stomach was sticking out under her shirt and they kept touching her stomach.
The white sand dunes are very hot so we had to wear a lot of sunblock. Here are Rachel, Jonny, Vika and Nikki getting ready to slide down the dunes. You could pay extra to have a pony run up and down the sand dunes for you, but we chose to do it ourselves; better exercise.
Here is Noah Galicia walking along the top of one of the dunes looking like he just got out of a plane wreck in the Sahara Desert.
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Our Day at the Dunes

We ended the day at the pool because it was really hot....and this is the coolest time of year. I look like Popeye in this picture.
Here is Rachel.
This is called Fairy Stream. It's about 5 minutes from Palmira Resort. We walked up this shallow stream where there were sand formations in red and white. At the end, there was a waterfall where a bunch of local boys were playing in the water and they made it pretty disgusting because it was filled with trash. Don't go to the waterfall, it's a waste of time and you'll probably need a hepatitis shot.
These are the white sand dunes. Most of Vietnam is humid and rainy, but parts of it are very dry. It looks like the Sahara desert out here. We rented plastic slides for $1, but it was more fun to just do dive rolls down it.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Vietnam Day 1

We all loaded our bus to go visit Cu Chi Tunnels this morning. The streets are packed with scooters. This is their main form of transportation here. Families would pile onto their little scooter and go just as we would in a car. Our guide said that it isn't as busy right now because most of the people have left the city for the Lunar New Year which is tonight. I can't imagine it being any more crowded on the streets.
We stopped at an intersection and next to us were all these scooters.

The bus ride to the Cu Chi tunnels was about an hour so we were able to see some interesting things along the way. The picture above is a cemetery. The Vietnamese people build little houses over the burial site. They believe that when you die you go onto live somewhere else so they build a house and bury them with some possessions to help them on the other side. Some even are buried with their passports and money because they hoped to be able to travel to other parts of the world and the families want to make sure they have their passports. They also believe they can get these possessions to their ancestors by burning them, so there is a large industry of paper objects a person would want to pass on to their ancestors. For example, if you want your ancestor to have a car in the next life you can burn a paper car and the smoke will take it to them; or you can burn money or credit cards and the smoke will take it to them. There are businesses that specialize in making copies of the stuff you want to send your ancestors. I kept seeing guys burning money, but it's fake money. Hopefully, the smoke will take the money to their ancestors in a usable form, maybe that's why they send credit cards now. What if they don't take Visa in the next life?
We passed by lots of rubber trees. These were all replanted after the war here because this area received massive bombing during the war.

Jonny posing with Debbie Galicia in their little hats. No, Jonny didn't wear it for real just for the picture.

This is the entrance to the Cu Chi tunnels. I'm not sure why they built this modern tunnel to get to the area.

The Cu Chi tunnels were built by the Viet Cong where they lived and hid during the war. They started building the tunnels during their war with France before the US came in. They built 250 kilometers of tunnels and living quarters underground during the Vietnam War. Some would live down here for three months at a time in hiding. The US and South Vietnam could never find them. They would come out at night to set traps and would appear like ghosts to fight. These tunnels were very sophisticated with ventilation systems, living quarters, meeting areas, water wells, and tunnels to move miles underground. They would even cook underground using fire and the smoke was released through a series of small outlets in the mornings and would appear as fog to the people outside. In the middle of this picture you see several small squares leading to the surface; these are smoke chambers. They cooked underground and by the time the smoke got to the surface it dissipated into almost nothing.

The Viet Cong would have these little exits from the tunnels where they would appear out of nowhere to fight.

They were tiny holes for tiny people. Not quite built for us large Americans.

They also built these small ditches outside where they would move around in above ground. They would wear camouflage and put leaves in packs on their backs so that the plane and helicopters flying over wouldn't see them.

This is our QSI gang in front of a US tank.

The tour at Cu Chi tunnels was a little disturbing seeing the things that the Viet Cong did to fight our troops during the war. This is one example of a trap that they would set. You would never know what it was until it was too late because they would hide it so well but the door would swing as you stepped on it and you would land on these sharp bamboo sticks. Very similar to hunting traps but it wasn't animals being hunted here.

Here are some other examples of traps set.